“With the issues of economic and climatological degradation during the later years of the twenty-first century a segment of the old cognitariat aligned itself with the poor and excluded of the world bringing about a global underground movement toward alien eusociality…”
– from the History of the Great Transition (circa. 2185)
Even as the whirring blades of our Zeta III intelothopter began its slow descent, the luminous clouds below parted revealing the starkness of the southern seas aflame in the bitter winter light. I felt a sudden urge to take flight, escape, withdraw my pledge and commitment to so strange a global initiative, one which held so much promise for a decaying and dying civilization. As we skimmed across the sun lit waters the white towers of Sentaria rose up before us like shivering sisters caught in the act of an affectionate embrace, a dark eroticism that even machines deign to unveil before the bright white heat of an angry sun.
In the distance the undulating outlines of this vast ocean enclave below us shifted in the gleaming mists of an afternoon storm, revealing the inner circle of the Consilient Hub weaving its magic below us like an ancient sea-born assemblage from an alien future; its immaterial life emerging from this sentient city rising above the watery depths, eclipsing all other life-forms in the shadowed worlds below the waves. Sentaria’s towering structures brilliantly lit in rainbow hues were firing in rhizomatic pulsations – filaments of nervous energy following a line of flight only an alien mind could comprehend – as we descended toward the outlying helipad near the educational assemblage where I would meet Dr. Miri Singh.
It was as if this living intelligence were welcoming my crew and myself home from a long and tedious journey abroad; a message at once alien and disturbing, not because of its endearing qualities, but rather for the very nihilist vision it portended: one that if we were to decipher might lead us to collapse and utter desolation rather than pure knowledge. I could almost feel the hidden heartbeat of this Lady of the Mesh, her electronic cyberpulse rising and falling with the rhythmic intensity of the ocean’s moods: a medley of technopoiesis stretching itself across the glittering surface of the far flung bay – dancing to the sun’s own secret algorithms.
I felt both a keen sense of satisfaction at such defiant hubris on the part of human creativity and ingenuity, as well as an instant fascination and terror before such audacious acts of pure intellect. Eusociality had never seen such a massive incorporation of its immanent designs at a time when the fragility of life itself was in the balance. This experiment between the unknown and the unknowable marked a moment when theories of meaning no longer held any sway, this was a trial by ignorance not experience – at once inhuman and completely driven by the energetic impulse of technology and an alien intelligence unlike anything humans had ever encountered nor in the long run survive.
The Consilience Enclave marked a beginning as well as an ending; yet, the alien thought inhabiting its core resilience drew its strength not from tree and root, but rather from the middle way which has neither beginning nor end only an intensive trajectory between – an interbeing.
As CEO of NeoXend Enterprises I’d always felt a fondness for experimental design and creativity. Having sponsored many R&D programs over the years I knew there would always be a need to invest in failures, even experimental failures. It was never about the final goal, there was no logic or telos involved in such endeavors, rather what we sought was the production of unknowns, an indefinable commodity. Out of such innovative endeavors, the spin-off technologies were always more important than the actual tendencies and conceptions of the original plans. What we discovered over the years was the need for collective work bound to rhizomes, a-centered environments that allowed entry points into and out of – as our technopsys loved to term it – the ‘energetic unconscious’. We did not seek to understand, nor control the flow of creativity; rather, what we sought is the production of the impossible.
As I stepped from the Intelothopter I was greeted by Dr. Singh and here protégés: an assortment of humanoids, cyberclones, and various robotechs who maintained the outer perimeters of this vast enclave.
“Good morning Dr. Landau,” her voice formal and non-committal. “I hate to do this but we’re in the midst a particularly intensive design test this morning so I’m leaving you with my associate Keli Tu.” She turned toward a young clone who seemed eager to serve our every need. Then she said: “She will attune you to the protocols and show you the outer facilities. Later we shall all meet at the Kotrov Assemblage for a debriefing. Is this satisfactory?”
Being somewhat tired from the journey I spoke carefully, saying, “Of course, Dr. Miri, I understand the difficulties of dealing with superficial entrepreneurs who are for the most part clueless in terms of scientific know-how. Just remember I’m neither superficial nor clueless. We’ve had our eye on you for some time. Favorably I might add, yet we feel a need to see first hand where our investment is taking us. So please skip the formalities and get on with business as usual. I’m in no great hurry to be tied down to long sessions and debriefings. Go ahead and do what you need to do. In fact I’m looking forward to seeing this project through as much as you, Doctor. I’m not here to disturb your habitat, merely to enter its life as into a burrow.”
I smiled my best CEO smile, crisping the corners of my artificial lips, and walked over to the young clone and locked my arms in hers and said: “Shall we?”
She laughed pleasantly and proceeded to walk me toward the city.
The ideal for a book would be to lay everything out on a plane of exteriority… on a single page, the same sheet: lived events, historical determinations, concepts, individuals, groups, social formations. – A Thousand Plateaus
Above is the opening of the SF dystopian novel I’ve been working on for a while… just a paragraph, nothing much. You’ll have to wait for publication to see the rest. Working on the second draft of this book, that I laid aside for a few months has suddenly awakened in me the need to take it up and be done with it. I may be taking a break over the next few months as I begin to work on this in earnest.
The notion of writing philosophical SF in an experimental mode has allowed me to explore the modern, postmodern, and the latest editions of philosophical trajectories in a way that fuses the two multiplicities in directions that by themselves might not be possible. Like Samuel R. Delaney in many of his linguistic experiments I have felt the need to explore the limits of science and literature through the eyes of a philosopher and poet. Whether it succeeds time will only tell. Of late my readings in Nick Land, Deleuze and Guattari, Accelerationism, Nicklas Luhmann (Society and Architecture as Communications), the work of Patrik Schumacher on Architecture in his books The Autopoiesis of Architecture: A New Framework for Architecture: 1 and 2, along with almost every other aspect of our current cultural mixology. All have entered into this work by way of a rhizomatic pulsation, more of a map rather than a tracery of past or future movement, antigenealogical in intent and design I’ve let the city itself become the prime player, or brood mother of this strange artifact.
Thinking of the naturalist Edward O. Wilson’s work on the consilience of the sciences of that name I began thinking of the various forms the City has taken across the centuries as documented by authors such as Lewis Mumford, Peter Hall and many other architects, futurists, and philosophers from Plato’s Ideal Republic to the most advanced dystopianism of our own time. The notion of this merger of architecture, smart materials, communication technologies, and the nanotech-biotech initiatives in robotics, posthuman and transhumanist agendas seems to revolve around this underlying paradigm of Intelligence and the General Intellect. The notion of an Intelligent City – a Sentient City of living algorithms organizing and shaping both the infrastructure and its inhabitants in an Infospheric world of play and work, creativity and innovation. What would happen in such a sentient city? What if the city herself was a character in a novel… one that could take on the form of human and inhuman structurations and subjectivations at will, a selective and impersonal system of smart technologies that adapt and learn in inhuman cycles we can only begin to register on our less than adequate physical architecture? A system that is based on the General Intellect of a very intelligent and creative cognitariat that is its progenitor and its eventual victim.